The puppies were on at PADS for their puppy assessment today. Usually, there would be set up inside with lots of volunteer helpers, but because of COVID the assessments were done in the breeding kennel yard with just Jess administering the assessment, Jackie scoring, and two kids to help entertain the pups and bring them into the assessment area when it was their turn.
Puppy assessments are not useful for predicting adult temperament (any of them). What puppy assessments do tell us is what traits a puppy is currently showing, and where they could use some extra work, which helps in assigning puppies to raisers and developing training plans to help puppies with any areas where they could use a little extra work. Rather than raisers taking a scattershot approach to socialization, this helps directs efforts to where they’ll be most effective.
Puppy assessments also help to tease out close to what the puppies’ basic temperament is (personality develops over time, it’s a combination of temperament + experiences). This helps us assess what the parents are producing. In this case, because this is both Elfin and Biscuit’s first litter, this is our first glimpse into what traits they may pass on. (Because both Elfin and Biscuit are from several generations of PADS breedings, we have an idea of what traits we hope they have to pass on, but these first couple breeding are the rest of that).
Puppy assessments, and the checklist used to score them (the Behaviour Checklist or BCL), are consistent across a number of organizations, and PADS is currently contributing assessment scores and DNA samples to the Working Dog Project, which among other objectives is trying to identify the genes associated with specific behaviour traits that make a dog more or less likely to succeed as an assistance dog.
There is no pass or fail for puppy assessments, we’re just getting a sense for who the puppy is outside of their familiar environment.
Here’s a little video of Freddie’s assessment.